Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Energy Reservoir Surrounding Us In the Weave of Luck

Those who are very healthy are surrounded by a cushion-layer of megin or spiritual strength that gives them a strong sense of independence, and can even foster illusions of being entirely self-sufficient.

But the realities of being a human being are vastly different than being "entirely self-sufficient". In fact, our strengths and energy-reserves rest upon a vast reservoir of luck that extends out into the world around us and which reflects the health and strength of those things with which we interact on an everyday basis.

This may not become palpably clear to someone until they experience some kind of health crisis in which the ordinary buffer of megin is taken down to a minimal level, and they begin having to draw upon strength wherever they can, from that which surrounds them. At that point, things which once sounded superstitious or silly begin to take on a new resonance and sense.

An old rocking chair made by one's great uncle can suddenly take on a whole new set of meanings, and sitting in it, feeling the age of the wood, the skill and craft that went into its making, the embodied care and emotions put into the carpentry, can fill one up with a strength that is palpable. The solidity of an old oak or ash tree with its strong roots in the earth is taken in by the mind, eaten, drunk, and digested, in a way that can be felt by the whole body.

It is not for nothing that our ancestors gave things names, to denote their character, formed both in their making and in their long history. Over time, old things became a part of the family, and influenced how one felt about the world.

It's incredible how much weave there is in the fabric of one's hale or health. So many things come together and combine to create the strengths that we often take for granted. Feeding one's luck is a matter of coming out of this naivete and failure to experience gratitude, and really coming to appreciate all of the strands in the weave of that great fabric that makes our lives rich, and assessing what things in our lives and surroundings really feed that strength, and which things weaken, and adding to the former while getting rid of the latter. Things that weaken are not necessarily all bad. It just may be that they belong in another place. Every thing has its home where it belongs, and when it is far from its home, it does no good, either to itself or others.

The ability to appreciate in human beings is not an idle power. It is, rather, an active gift from the gods that allows a person to draw upon strength in the environment around him or her. I suspect that this ability is not entirely cognitive in nature (although it may be mediated cognitively), but actually facilitates energetic communion with the object of appreciation, to the depths one is capable of appreciating. If one is communing with an object of goodness, its rich character can enhance, color, and augment one's own energetic field.

Gronbech, that rabbi of the Teutonic tradition, speaks of people "contracting alliances", "mingling their minds", and "adopting the soul" of the animals, trees, crafts,and people about them. There is a mixing of soul that can occur where the strengths of both souls are blended together.

Again, all of this may seem nonsensical when taken on an abstract, metaphysical level, but it is at the deep phenomenological roots of our real experience that all of this articulates from, and which speaks a real element of our experience that we moderns rarely notice, except, again, as I have said, if we are ill, in which we grasp onto anything to gain strength : the softness of the pillow we are holding, the smoothness of the sheets, the grainy hardness of a wooden piece of furniture.

Judy Grahn suggests that it is through the power of the things around us that we have been enabled to become conscious human beings. She talks about "metaforms", which are deeper and more experiential than mere "metaphors". Rather, the things themselves, out there in the world around us, enfold all kinds of different relationships and conceptions that lend themselves to human conception once grasped by the mind. In a sense, the concepts are out there in the world, not just in our minds. True, we transform them, as a bee transforms the flower's nectar into honey, as the ant ferments the chewed leaves into an edible mash, but the prime materia, as the alchemists would say, is not a lifeless or dumb lump, but a fermentation of proto-intelligence, as it were.

It's best to stay with the nose close to the ground of experience here so that the words do not take off into metaphysical flights, but it is very important for Western culture to regain its roots so we can talk about such things without people looking at us like we've just come back from some new age convention. Rather, it should come off our lips and into their ears like the song of the farmer in the field, sickle in hand harvesting the grain, the smell of the earth and dry grass wafting up into the nostrils, the sound of the barley waving in the wind. Gritty. Deep. Real.


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